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Jan 26, 2011 02:41 PM

A new spot for excellent croissants: Fuji Bakery

Those of you who've seen my posts about croissants here, as well as on the Manhattan and France boards, know I am a Cafe Besasu partisan. But I don't want to restart the repeated discussions of "who is best in Seattle." I just want to report on one new place I recently discovered.

Fuji Bakery at 526 S. King St. in the ID, with a home base in Bellevue, is a Japanese bakery. Although I have spent time in Japan, I ate few desserts there and did not try any here. I did try the croissants and pains au chocolat today at Fuji, midday. Time matters, since croissants may lose crispness as a day progresses, although the best ones can be reheated to crisp them up. This was my only visit, so I can't comment on early morning or late afternoon quality.

In a single word, they are excellent. However, while truly a French croissant, they are of a somewhat different style than Besalu. I think in France you will find proponents of both styles, though I tend to the Besalu style.

I was told that the head baker is Japanese but has worked in French restaurants. In contrast, James at Besalu is American who studied in Switzerland. Apparently, it is not necessary to BE French to BAKE great French.

Anyway, without giving more details about the different styles, and avoiding that meaningless word "best," I invite other croissant fans to try Fuji. It is open Mon-Sat. Besalu is open Wed-Sun.

For reference, I will give you a very French view of what constitutes good and bad croissants, translated (as best I can) from Le Figaro newspaper as part of their regular rating of the best croissants in Paris. Le Figaro has no problem using the word "best."

It is good if:
- It is shaped like a quarter moon.
- It is plump, has a crust is golden brown and a beautiful blonde color.
- When you stretch the horns to explore the interior, the crumb seems to have airy holes, convoluted, beige, supple, almost brilliant, and hidden under a very crisp pastry exterior.
- In the mouth it has a little malty/yeasty taste, a mild acidity, and a good balance between taste of butter and the aroma of the wheat, which lingers on the palate; it is both crisp and mouth-melting.
- The triangular point section is up well on the front, ready to pull off.
- Well done, a croissant is certainly drier but still good the next day.

It is bad if:
- It is flat, featureless and bloated, pasty, and compacts in your mouth.
- It is perfectly identical to all the croissants presented in store. It is therefore a strong probability that it has been thawed.
- It's dry outside, chewy or rubbery inside.
- It breaks into crumbs too much and it shows large holes in the pastry exterior layers because it was poorly "tourée,” (after rolling out, folded in three or four folds to be chilled before rolling out again).
- It is uniformly soft, indicating that it was cooked in a pulsed-air convection oven or an oven too cold.
- It does not have that light smell of butter and the taste of sugar too evident.
- If it is fat and greasy, the butter used was poor and it ran during the cooking.
- If it is too yellow, the baker may have added butter flavored with vanillin.
- Pasty white or cream color, it has not cooked properly.

Cafe Besalu
5909 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

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  1. Leave it to you to find a new place for a good croissant. Strong work, Randy. It is now on my ever-lengthening list of "Places in Seattle I'd Like to Try." Is there a reason why you didn't want to give more details about the different styles? I, for one, would be interested.

    1. I work in the same parking lot as the Bellevue Fuji Bakery, and have been for over 3 years. So, I have frequently found myself in there over the years. They have excellent food, most of which is seasonal. Their cakes and pastries are just the right amount of sweet without taking things out of balance or being overly sugar-flavored. I'm a particular fan of the olive and anchovy breads and their kaare-pan (otherwise known as a curry bun, or as they strangely label it at Fuji Bakery a curry piroshki), although the latter isn't nearly spicy enough in my opinion! =D There is something for everybody at this place : savory and sweet breads, sandwiches, seasonal veggie pastries, brioches, bread loaves, cakes, pies, other french inspired desserts, coffee, tea, smoothies, and of course that wonderful staple of Japanese vending machines, canned coffee. The only sad point is that their canned coffee is Pokka, not Boss Coffee! All in all, Fuji Bakery is a wonderful store to get great baked goods, and if you go early in the morning on the weekend, it is packed to capacity with Japanese people looking to get their fix of home.

      The only problem I have there is that no matter how hard I try, I can not get them to stop over-wrapping my food in far too many paper bags.

      1. I just checked this place out and wow! I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before. I went with a large group of coworkers and everything was excellent. My "caramel apple"--puff pastry filled with apples, and topped with the thinest layer of crispy caramel, was fantastic. They had some unusual items there--it was a neat mix of French and Japanese.

        2 Replies
        1. re: christy319

          This place is awesome. Rosemary-salted brioche was perfect. Lot's of other really good pastries.

          1. re: dagrassroots

            I went back the next day after posting and really loaded up (hey, you need to try a wide variety to really evaluate a place, right?). It's top notch pastry. The ID is such an unlikely location but really a great one, considering the Japanese influence.

        2. Went to the Bellevue location recently. It is really tucked away and would probably be pretty hard to find for people not very familiar with Bellevue. The pastries were great - had a chocolate croissant, a kouign aman, a little baguette with dark chocolate and balsamic, and a strawberry tartlet. The prices seemed a little bit on the high end. They seem to have a lot of Japanese clients since while I was there for about 10 minutes there were 4 Japanese speaking clients who came in. Despite me being Japanese they must have known that my Japanese is terrible and so talked to me in English.

          1 Reply
          1. re:

            The prices are a little bit high, but I can attest to the fact that it is because they buy very high quality, mostly organic, fresh ingredients.

          2. My husband and I went to the ID location a couple of weeks ago. It's really cute, wish they had seating, though. I had the vegetable foccacia which was really good and a cream cheese brioche. I didn't eat the brioche until a couple of hours later and it was ok, but probably would've been great if I ate it right away. My husband had a piece of quiche which he said was amazing and a croissant. The croissant was one of the best we've ever had.